Indiana GOP Senate candidate voted Democrat until 2012

A wealthy Indiana Senate candidate who bills himself in television ads as a conservative Republican voted for more than a decade in the state's Democratic primaries, according to public documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Posted: Dec 6, 2017 3:57 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A wealthy Indiana Senate candidate who bills himself in television ads as a conservative Republican voted for more than a decade in the state's Democratic primaries, according to public documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Records from the Dubois County Clerk's office, where candidate Mike Braun is registered to vote, show the 63-year-old consistently cast Democratic ballots in partisan primary elections until 2012. He began voting in Democratic primaries in at least 1996, according to county records that date back only 25 years. That includes the 2008 primary where Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Barack Obama following a heated campaign.

That could cause trouble for Braun, a businessman and former state lawmaker who elbowed his way into a competitive GOP Senate primary by investing more than $800,000 of his own money. In recent years, Indiana Republican primaries have been GOP purity competitions; whoever wins in May will go on to face Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly during the 2018 general election.

Braun, who owns a national auto parts distribution business, has already drawn heat over his vote this year in favor of a 10-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase, which occurred before he stepped down from the Legislature this fall to focus on his Senate campaign. That vote, combined with the revelation that he didn't vote as a Republican until 2012, could open him up to charges of being a "RINO," a derisive acronym for "Republican In Name Only" often used by conservative activities.

"Mike Braun is a lifelong Republican and this is just another tired attack from the political class," said spokesman Josh Kelley, who added that Braun cast Democratic primary ballots in an attempt to impact the outcomes of those races. Kelley declined to say if Braun voted for Obama or Clinton in 2008.

His chief primary rivals, Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, held elected office as Republicans a decade before Braun crossed over.

"Mike Braun raises taxes like a Democrat so it's not a surprise he votes for Democrats too," said Rokita spokesman Tim Edson.

Messer's campaign declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

It's not the first time a candidate's prior partisan affiliation has emerged as an issue in a Senate race this year. A primary opponent has seized on Wisconsin Republican Kevin Nicholson's past as president of the College Democrats of America. State Sen. Leah Vukmir said Nicholson's only track record of being a conservative is "him saying he's a conservative."

Nicholson, 39, has the backing of Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump's former strategist, in a race that will determine who will face Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Nicholson says he was a Democrat in his "younger days," though he still voted as a Democrat as recently as 2008.

Indiana does not require voters to register with one particular party. Rather, their selection of a Republican or Democratic ballot during a primary becomes their de facto party affiliation.

The timing of Braun's 2012 switch is significant, given his election to the Indiana House of Representatives as a Republican in 2014. State law requires partisan candidates for office to have voted with their party during the previous primary election, unless they have written permission from the GOP county chairman where they live.

Braun, who served nearly three years in the Legislature, was able to qualify for the ballot in 2014 without special permission because he had pulled a Republican ballot during the 2012 primary.

Still, Braun's campaign denies that he ever changed allegiances. They insist he has always voted Republican during general elections, though there is no way of knowing because those ballots are kept secret.

Braun lives in Jasper, a southern Indiana town about 50 miles north of the Ohio River, which used to elect conservative Democrats. That's changed over the past decade amid shifting party demographics and a major redrawing of congressional and Statehouse districts led by Republicans who control the Legislature. But at one point there was a partisan advantage for Republicans who pulled Democrat ballots, his campaign argues.

"As is often the case in solidly blue counties, like DuBois was at the time, Mike cast his vote in competitive local primaries where it would have the greatest impact, while voting solidly Republican in general elections," Kelley said.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

West Lafayette
Few Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 72°
Kokomo
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 68°
Rensselaer
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 66°
Fowler
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 66°
Williamsport
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 68°
Frankfort
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
Delphi
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 69°
Monticello
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 69°
Logansport
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 70°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events